I can’t be a player that’s scared to get in the way of pucks or go to those dirty areas. I’ve got to play that way every night and that’s how I’ll have success. - Lance Bouma
CALGARY, AB -- Bob Hartley wouldn’t ask, but it wouldn’t catch the Calgary Flames coach off guard if fearless forward Lance Bouma dove headfirst into an oncoming shot. He’s sporting a cage for the last handful of contests.
And he knows how crazy Bouma can be, after all.
“That cage transforms him even a little bit crazier. That’s Boums.” Hartley said of his resident shot-blocker, forced into the wire mesh to protect a facial injury or two. “There was no doubt in my mind that it wouldn’t change him. He’s a guy that goes.”
Bouma’s stint behind bars could come to a close as early as Friday when the Flames host the Nashville Predators at Scotiabank Saddledome. Given the nature of his facial injury, a cage might be all too fitting for the Halloween tilt, though.
But cage or not to protect, Bouma only has one speed: go.
“That’s the way I’ve got to play,” he said. “I can’t be a player that’s scared to get in the way of pucks or go to those dirty areas. I’ve got to play that way every night and that’s how I’ll have success.”
He has. Bouma sits 14th among forwards in blocked shots after being credited with eight through his first 10 games. The number seems like a slight bit of fiction to those watching the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder routinely throw any appendage in the way of rubber.
Bouma has added a goal and an assist over the same time as he adjusts to life down the middle while routinely being flanked by Brandon Bollig and Josh Jooris.
But Bouma’s contributions transcend the scoresheet, his coach admits.
“We can talk about the players but it’s about what we need as an organization,” Hartley responded when quizzed about Bouma’s effort. “That’s what we’ve tried to cultivate from our guys. You look at the young players coming in and that’s what we need to do. We’re going to keep going up in the standings and we’re going to become a playoff team and a team contending for the Cup.
“Those are expectations right now that we’re creating and they’re becoming standards. If you want to be in the lineup every game you need to meet those standards. That’s the only way we’re going to move forward.”
Yes, the 24-year-old is being counted on.
He’s being groomed, too, to be Calgary’s next wave of locker room leaders.
“That’s definitely something I try to do and I’m also trying to be more vocal,” Bouma said. “That’s something Bob’s also talked to me about too, is being a little bit more vocal. We do have kind of a quiet team sometimes. We need guys to step up in the locker room and say some things.”
For now, Bouma’s actions speak louder than words. His aggressive style and willingness to step in front of a shot can attest to that.
But cage or visor, he may save that whole headfirst thing as a last resort.
“I haven’t given that a thought at all yet,” Bouma said. “I’m trying to stay away from the head. Hopefully just the body.”